A short (personal) intermezzo

Only recently did I fully realize the real value of social media, specifically online communication. I can’t remember how many times I’ve deleted an inappropriate or even sarcastic remark of mine before I posted it. And I’m really happy for that. As a rule of thumb I think twice before I respond, especially when I feel offended, but I always react spontaneously when I feel respect, admiration, or awe. There is a difference between what you think and what you actually say or do. A nasty word aimed at a person will stay with them forever, especially if it’s written down in ink, while your negative thought can ultimately be changed into a positive one and nobody will ever know you once had a grudge against that person. And thus there will be nothing to regret.

The online community I’m part of is so supportive and encouraging that it feels like a punch in the face when somebody is not as polite as the ones I’m used to interacting with. The power of virtual discourse is enormous. There is a danger that any utterance can be misinterpreted and a light sarcasm can change into a huge insult in the eyes of the reader. Thus I believe a person should be twice as nice as in a normal face-to-face communication to make sure they get the right message across.

I admit that my style of writing may sometimes appear confusing. The trouble is that while expressing my ideas, I love to use metaphors and figurative language in general; I like to alter and exaggerate the usual meaning of concepts. I do so because I hate to sound dogmatic and I believe there are as many truths as there are people, so by using figurative language I feel I give the reader some space for their own interpretation. Yes, my writing may lack clarity sometimes but by no means do I want to confuse the reader. And I don’t mind if their truth turns out to be different from mine. But I’ve come to realize this can turn against me, the writer; people who do not want to understand will misuse the little space I’ve innocently provided. Those people listen to respond and win a point, not to understand what I have to say. And sometimes they will even blame me for their inability to understand. I’m aware of the fact that the literal interpretation of figurative language may not make sense at first sight but it’s up to the reader to make an effort to understand, in case they truly wish to engage in genuine communication.

People hurt others in many different ways; some use a cane, while others use words, maybe unwittingly. This is sad. On the other hand, a gap in understanding can be painful but it is a natural part of human interaction. And I believe that our task is to bridge this gap, not to deepen it.

I’m sorry if it sounds like a quiet sob of a spoiled girl. But I’m really grateful for this sudden insight because it will help me tremendously in my profession. Also, this is one of the messages I intend to pass on as a teacher …. Thanks for being here and listening.

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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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2 Responses to A short (personal) intermezzo

  1. lizzieserene says:

    Dear Hana,
    I sometimes think we are all spoiled by the #PLNluv from the understanding community we share. I like the distinction you make between reading and responding to understand vs. to win a throw. I also think that every writer's style takes getting used to and sometimes it feels like walking on eggshells to figure out how to respond to writers I feel I don't know very well. Our RPPLN project taught me that lesson (because otherwise I wait and see how they interact with other people before I put my two cents in). The drive to understand each other trumps (and should trump, imo) the need to “be right”. But I also wonder if, in other more competitive contexts, the idea of “winning” just becomes a habit that you don't even notice anymore. I feel sorry for people who work under pressures where they need to develop habits like that.
    By the way, I like the way you write. You have a distinct style that is all your own.
    Anne

    Like

  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Dear Anne,
    Thanks for reading and your comment, which is heartfelt and thoughtful, as usual. It's music to my ears, so to speak. In fact, you keep spoiling me all the time. 🙂 Yes, I definitely agree that it takes time to get used to all sorts of writing styles out there in the blogosphere, but I believe it’s worth the effort. I sometimes have to read a comment or a post three times before I get what the writer means or before I’m able to respond in some way. Sometimes I get what the author means immediately. I think other people’s writing enriches me, whatever perspective they take. I like to disagree because it makes me think and challenges my own viewpoints. But I always try to disagree politely because I know I would regret it later if I was rude. Anyway, communication is art and some are better at it than others, right?
    Hana

    Like

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